Advice about Franklin Q & A
Somehow in the blink of an eye, after four years at Franklin, we are graduating this weekend!! So for our final blogpost we thought we'd do a joint Q & A and answer some questions to offer our final advice about life at Franklin. We miss you all already!
Q: What advice would you give to your freshmen self?
Jessica: Don’t be afraid to speak up more in class! I took a few upper level courses my freshmen year. And especially my first semester when I had a few classes with older students I was so intimidated by them that even though I did all the readings, was regularly prepared for class and had things to contribute to the discussion, I often stayed silent. Huge mistake. Now that I am a senior it's so apparent to me that I should have contributed more! I had legitimate points to add to the discussion, and moreover I was probably a lot more prepared than some of those seniors were ;) Plus professors notice who is participating in class and you’ll make a better impression with them if you make the effort to contribute, even if you aren’t always correct.
Morgan: Don't worry so much! In my first year, I distinctly remember the feeling of slight panic lingering in me at all times. I wish I could go back and tell myself-- you will make incredible friends, do well in your classes, take once-in-a-lifetime trips, find a job, find a balance. I spent so much time thinking about HOW I would manage to make Franklin my home I didn't savor the process of MAKING Franklin home as much as I could have! This sentiment isn't just felt by me, either. Franklin is such an enormous life change, but everybody gets used to it, and finds their 'new normal' here in Lugano. Every feeling I had led up to today, so I am grateful for all of it.
I am reminded of a quote by Anne Lamott, which reads:
"It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do."
Q: What has been the best part of Franklin?
Jessica: I am leaving Franklin so much more confident than I was when I arrived here four years ago! I’m sure part of that is naturally the difference between being 18 and 22. But I know that a big source of my confidence has to do with the fact that life at Franklin is challenging! Being away from your home and family, not understanding the local language, having to make new friends. Coming to Franklin was not choosing the easy route, but it has been so rewarding! Traveling with friends on weekends to a foreign country may seem glamorous on Instagram, but the behind-the-scenes can also be stressful and involves a lot of planning, independence and a dash of courage! Franklin has given me the confidence to feel like if I can live in a foreign country for my undergrad and plan a successful weekend trip for five girls to Morocco, then I can do just about anything!
Morgan: To echo Jessica, many of the feelings I have might just be the difference between being 18 and 22. That said, the best part of Franklin, hands down, has been the community we have built here over the past four years. I am so proud of the relationships formed and the memories made together. At graduation rehearsal, I looked around the room and teared up, as the love and happiness shared was palpable. Because Franklin is so small, every experience and dynamic is amplified. I am most grateful for this when it comes to the tight-knit feeling of our class.
Q: What was your favorite class?
Jessica: This is actually a really difficult question because its hard to narrow it down, so I’ll give you my top three. "Politics of Latin America" with Professor Cordon. This class was so interesting! I never thought I’d be so interested in Latin American politics, it made me see that region of the world in a whole different light. "International Political Economy" with Professor Zanecchia. I loved the texts that we used for this course and just found myself nodding my head in agreement with most everything we read and talked about it class. I felt like this course helped me make sense of the modern world as it functions and I still reference things I learned in it all the time! And my third choice, "International Environmental Politics", also taught by Professor Zanecchia. I took this course my first semester freshmen year and this is going to sound super corny, but it was like an inner reawakening for me. It put me on the path to eventually switching my major from International Relations to Environmental Studies. You might have noticed that all of these courses are Political Science courses. That is because I completed all of the core requirements for an IR degree (besides a thesis) before switching my major in the fall of my junior year to Environmental Studies. I am passionate about environmental studies now though and so glad I made the switch, but also happy I had the opportunity to take those political science courses and now I am graduating with a minor in Political Science.
Morgan: This is truly a difficult question! The course sequence which I learned the most from, and appreciated the most for its academic excellence and rigor, was taking "Investment Analysis I and II" with Professor Luca Colombo. While it was a remarkably tough subject matter, the way Professor Colombo truly cared about his tiny, devoted class of students is something I will never forget. Of course, every management class with Professor Rocourt was a treat as well. Not only has he gleaned so much wisdom from his diverse and fascinating life, he made sure to impart some of this wisdom into every class meeting.
Q: What was your favorite Academic Travel?
Jessica: Again, an impossibly difficult question! If I had to pick though Rome would be 3rd, Iceland would be 2nd, and Botswana would be my favorite Academic Travel. As someone who is passionate about environmental studies it was just such an amazing experience to study conservation for two weeks in the bush of Botswana. Walking through the bush with a thunderstorm approaching, watching the zebras and giraffes in the fields, then returning to our tents at night under the stars and listening to the roars of lions in distance was simply magical.
Morgan: To echo Jessica, this is like choosing a favorite child-- I loved and appreciated all of my Academic Travels for different reasons! My first and last travels stick out especially, to London and South Africa, respectively. London was my first academic travel and really was when I first started to understand what it meant to be a Franklin student, and how much of a gift it was. Not only did I make some of my closest friends on this travel, for the first time I understood how valuable of an education we were getting by being able to experience real, hands-on learning in incredible locations. Our final trip to South Africa studying conservation this spring was breathtaking, and wrapped up senior year in a way no other college in the world could have!
Q: What surprised you the most about Franklin?
Jessica: I had never been out of the US before I was 16 years old. I had only traveled to three countries before coming to Franklin and had NEVER been to Europe. It surprised me how although statistically 50% of my peers were from the US, many of them had very international upbringings. I found that even if they are from the US many students come from a multicultural home where one or more parents was not American. Moreover, many of my American peers were well traveled or had done foreign exchange programs around the globe. I felt a little intimidated by this, but mostly I was impressed and thrilled by how many of the students seemed to be seeking a vibrant, multicultural atmosphere. It is hard to put this into words, but I feel like this multicultural atmosphere is what makes Franklin in particular so unique compared to a study abroad program or a university satellite campus in Europe.
Morgan: What surprised me the most about Franklin was how consistently hard and good it was. I can't properly put to words what I mean by this, but from the very first day I had this deep, equal awareness of how difficult it would be to live abroad completely separated from my home; but also how beneficial and courageous this endeavor would be. The duality of this feeling absolutely carried me through the happiest and toughest days. Over the years, my experiences at Franklin shifted and evolved, and continued to remain both challenging and beautiful at the same time, whether academically, socially or personally. I am truly surprised and even more proud of how much I have grown these past four years. It was a gift to to watch dear friends experience the same intense personal growth and transformation as well.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering attending Franklin?
Jessica: When else in your life do you get to this kind of opportunity? To learn abroad for four years, to travel the world with an academic focus, to meet new friends from around the globe. Franklin has its drawbacks, and yes, life is challenging here. But I have never come across another school quite like Franklin! This place is unique and an opportunity that deserves to be seriously considered!
Morgan: Trust your gut! Whether you feel ready to take on a leap like Franklin, or not, it's ok. Just remember, as Jessica said, it's an absolutely phenomenal place. If you are leaning towards"no", you can always move on from Franklin if it's not your scene! It is always better to try something than be left wondering "what if". I am often reminded of the thought... our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. You are stronger than you believe, and definitely strong enough to attend Franklin! If we can do it, and thrive, you can as well.
Q: What's next for you?
Jessica: I am moving to New York City this summer! I have a paid internship with The Nature Conservancy at their New York City office working in their Marketing and Media department. I am so excited to a) move to my favorite city and b) work for one of the most prestigious international environmental organizations! After my internship I hope to get a job in the city with an environmental organization in communication.
Morgan: I am also U.S.A. bound-- at least for now! I am beginning a full-time job at an investment firm in Boston this June, working as an Analyst. I can't wait to dive into a professional role and enjoy the little luxuries of living at home. I will pursue an MBA in the next couple of years, and would not be surprised if my career leads me back to Europe in the future!